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Intellectual Property Journal

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Traditionally, the federal government has been considered the major player in information policy concerning copyrights and patents because both come within its exclusive legislative competence. Increasingly, however, two trends are becoming clear: intellectual property policy cannot be considered in isolation from other economic and social policy issues and national governments are increasingly constrained in terms of their direct actions with respect to specific intellectual property protections by the government's wider commitments developed through the process of international trade negotiation. It is argued in this paper that the role of those who actually control the intellectual property created or used in Canada is becoming critical in developing a national information policy which actually achieves the dual aims of intellectual property protection: encouraging widespread dissemination of ideas while rewarding the creativity of authors. This theme is explored empirically in the paper by contrasting the current efforts of Canada's universities in the arena of patentable ideas and their current role in the realm of copyrighted works. The federal report ‘Public Investments in University Research: Reaping the Benefits’ (May 4, 1999), on the commercialization of university research, deliberately excluded copyrighted works from consideration. This paper describes the importance, complexity, and potential value to universities, and the Canadian public, of that copyrighted productivity.

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